Farmers loan waiver frenzy: Stifled by financial stress, BJP, Congress won't find it easy to match up to their freebies promises

I am making an open offer to any political party in India to waive my bank loan and for that munificence I shall give them my vote.

It is beyond my comprehension how the nexus between elections and the dissolution of loans to specific voting blocs, like farmers, are seen as legal largesse. If you wish to give farmers a break give them subsidies and easy repayment terms and other support systems but a loan by its very nature is something that has to be given back.

Taken to its logical conclusion, all the middle class urban populations who have housing loans and sundry other EMIs hanging over their heads as they pursue a better life in debt should also be given some concessions.

And how come it is never the middle class, upper and lower levels included who never get a break as a voting bloc. That is 300 million of us today rising by 2025 to 550 million of us living in 115 million odd clumps called families. This lot pay their taxes, keep the government coffers clinking and live lives of quiet despair, their two ends never meeting, life one big debt.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Not just that, a progeny with half baked education stuck between a rock and a hard place with no hope of a decent job, chasing rainbows in the mist, a class that does its duty and yet has little access to timely and inexpensive medical aid, police security or the comforts of influence and nepotism being stranded on the middle rung of the ladder. Between rent and fees and the element of majboori that dictates the pattern of their lives these millions of Indians never seem to count.

Just like Kamal Nath, who generously signed a waiver before the ink was even dry on signing in ceremony for wearing the mantle of Chief Minister, we can now expect others to follow suit and dispense these favours. Assam and Gujarat have echoed the same and Congress president Rahul Gandhi believes that the loan waiver for farmers should be nationwide. Great, but while you are encouraging the con-game to farmers and exhorting to them to lose respect for their signature and their word of honour, the middle class lives in dire fear of the loan recall from the bank, delayed credit card payments, suffering the sins of defaulted increments on shoddy housing, exorbitant almost prohibitive school and college fees, vehicle installments, stumbling over the rising price line, bearing the whole burden of this isolated survival not to mention the spectre of getting girls married in a world where image is all.

How come no political entity sucks up to them?

Earlier this week former RBI chief Raghuram Rajan warned against this ‘sucking up’ option saying that the well connected farmers are the ones who get the fiscal break not those who are poorly off.

The fact that gets lost in these displays of generosity is that the money belongs to the taxpayers and is not, as perceived, given from Nath’s personal funds or his hereditary large-heartedness. Bearing the brunt will be the taken-for-granted middle class.

In the case of Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has attempted to mock the 31 March closing date for the waiver as an attempt to fool the farmers because most of them will fall outside the ambit of the Kamal Nath order. Whether this is true or not and should 30 September have been the deadline is all moot when the waiver is a bribe to get votes.

The message given here is not that the ploy is a helping hand but instead an encouragement to cheating the system for votes. Instead, signposting the way to better seeding and crop rotation, subsidized equipment and more secure and hygienic storage facilities and dependable transmodal delivery from crop to consumer should be the priorities. They never are.

These states, like Madhya Pradesh, are already on the financial backfoot. By so cavalierly dismissing the loans without even telling the rest of the citizens why this relief was necessary it sets a precedent with no caveat that it provides any inventive to resolving the farmers’ issues. If the crisis called for it then should it not be predicated to those who are in most perilous situations in the farming sector and not those who can afford to repay their loans and still come out winners.

The landless, the tenant farmers, they suffer the most but get little or no help.

Nath is now facing a rocky road in administrating to other needs of the state. Among them the shortage of electrical power, shortage of water, limited sanitation crime, especially against children, tribal malnutrition, a restless youth and a dire absence of employment opportunities. Add to this the social problems of female insecurity, child marriages and the Naxal threat and things can only get worse if action is not taken. To take it, where will the money come from?

The unloved middle class,of course. Throw them to the wolves.

To deflect from the real state of affairs of huge unemployment the Chief Minister has already gone parochial and used the state chauvinism card by accusing ‘outsiders’ for poaching jobs. That old trick only ends up in conflict, mindless violence and a buttery spread of suspicion while slathering a scapegoat.

Don’t worry, even that blame will finally settle like an albatross on the neck of the middle class.

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Dec 20, 2018 09:43:35 IST

Also See